Today’s edition of Through the Eyes of “U” is an account of yet another adventure with a fellow Awoko colleague.
I am a Catholic Christian. Back home, I attended church every Sunday with my family. So I was pleasantly surprised and very happy when one of my colleagues offered to take me to her Catholic church this past Sunday.
She and a few of my other coworkers informed me that services here are very bright and upbeat, which is a bit different from the masses that I’ve attended in America, so I was very much looking forward to it.
Sunday morning, when my colleague and I entered the church, I received the many stares and head-turns to which I’ve grown accustomed to ever since arriving in Freetown.
But unlike the people who would point and gaze at me at a restaurant or in the streets, most of the people in the church quickly turned their attention to something else: The mass.
I must admit, as soon as the service began, it was really the first time in which I really felt “one with the people.” We weren’t gathered as Sierra Leonean or Americans, but rather, we had gathered together for the same purpose of religion.
And, just like my colleagues had told me beforehand, the mass was very colorful and enjoyable. People sang and danced together in a beautiful, happy tone and I couldn’t help but smile and even take a few pictures.
During the mass, I whispered lightly under my breath, “Nigiyaka Dana,” which means, “Wow, it’s bright,” or “It’s colorful,” in Japanese just to quickly explain: I am an American but I was born in Japan. My mother is Japanese and my father is Vietnamese (and also speaks Japanese fluently); so in addition to English, I speak Japanese fluently.
Anyway, the pure life of the mass really left a lasting impression on me. It’s not as if the services I attend in America are dark and serious, but to be honest, the days which involve upbeat singing and clapping at my church are relatively rare.
After the mass, I asked my colleague if masses were normally that filled with life.
“Every week, it’s like that!” she replied, smiling.
And on this particular Sunday, I was fortunate enough to attend mass on 22nd June 2008, The Week of the African Child. So the children of the church were featured during the service, reading passages from the bible and leading the church prayers, among other things. They all did such a wonderful job and it made my first experience at a Sierra Leonean church that much more memorable.
By Yu Nakayama